Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-22 Days: Oddisee

You don't have to go very far in the pages of this blog to find me singing the praises of Oddisee. One of my favourite rappers ever, he's as brilliant live as he is recorded, as you can see in the live video below.

If you were expecting raps about drive-bys and bitches hopefully that's put you straight. Oddisse is much better than, with an intelligent, lyrical flow that deals with weighty subject matter without ever resorting to cheap shots.

Prodigious in output, he's already released a free EP and a full-length instrumental album this year, and I've no doubt there's more on the way from him too.

I love so much of his stuff it was hard to know what to put on this page, but hopefully there's more than enough here to get you into him. Wherever he's playing (I suspect West Holts or John Peel) I'll see you down the front.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-23 Days: Floating Points

When Sam Shepherd's debut album 'Elaenia' was released towards the end of last year it received massive critical acclaim. Its mix of electronica, jazz and ambient styles took on the kind of atmospheres created by the likes of Caribou and Four Tet and weaved new magic with them.

Having created this expansive world on record, he's since developed it into a live act which is likely to go down a treat on the West Holts stage. With a live band and great visuals he's definitely one to chill out with as the sun sets.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-24 Days: Years & Years

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This is undoubtedly the most 'pop' and/or 'popular' act I'm going to recommend in the countdown to Glastonbury. I make no apologies for that - there's always been a place on my shelf got the sort of top quality synth-pop that these guys make, from Bronski Beat and Erasure to Royksopp, Robyn and beyond, I've always been a sucker for a great melody with an electronic background.

On top of that I've got a lot of time and respect for frontman Olly Alexander. he's outspoken 9for the right reasons), good to his fans, and seems like a genuinely decent human being.

Just imagine some of these hits being pumped out in the sunshine on the Pyramid stage - it's going to be one of those feel-good Glastonbury moment that you remember for years (& years).

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-25: Mik Artistik

Everyone who goes to Glastonbury seems to have their own traditions - a bar you always go to, a special place to camp, the thing that always makes you feel that Glastonbury has properly started. For the group that I go with that tradition is a trip to see the marvellous Mik Artistik. And since he plays every day from Wednesday onwards, and more than once on most of those days, it's pretty easy to catch him!

He's definitely one of those acts that you have to see live to appreciate him properly - the wonder of 'Plastic Fox' comes alive when everyone is singing along. His songs are the proper Shakespearean mix of comedy and tragedy, and if it's your first time at Glasto then I can't think of a better way to lose your virginity and experience the proper spirit of the place!

Friday, 27 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-26: Maribou State

Maribou State have been around for some five years now, but it was last year's album 'Portraits' that brought them to a lot of people's attention (including mine).

They're playing on one of the stages in Silver Hayes on Sunday, which is great as this morning when I was playing this record I was thinking what a great Sunday morning album it is. It's relaxed but not too laid back, and will ease you into the last day of this year's Glastonbury perfectly.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-27 Days: John Grant

If you've listened to BBC 6music at all in the past few years then you can't fail to have heard John Grant. Former lead singer of The Czars, he's now had 3 solo albums out, and although these may have been patchy in places, he's a tour de force live. The songs from all of the albums seem to have more power and more emotion, and they fit together in a way that you wouldn't necessarily expect.

He's a brilliant performer who really engages with the audience and having met him a couple of times I can also say he's a thoroughly decent bloke. There's some videos below that span his records, so see which version of him you like the best - they'll all show up at Glastonbury!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-28 Days: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

One of my favorite 'indie' bands of recent years, Unknown Mortal Orchestra's third album really showed off Ruban Neilson's ear for a melody, while at the same time developing them as a band rather than just Neilson's bedroom one-man effort.

Live they're a bundle of energy and fun, really bringing the songs to life and showing Ruban's character. Make sure you see them if you get the chance.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-29 Days: Kojey Radical

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Today's recommendation is spoken-word poet/rapper Kojey Radical. He's playing at the Rum Shack on The Common on Thursday night (along with Kate Tempest among others). Having released the fantastic '23Winters' EP earlier this year his star is burning bright, and he'll be well worth a late night visit to the naughty corner.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-30 Days: Kamasi Washington

Over the next 30 days, as we count down to the start of this year's Glastonbury Festival, I'll be highlighting one act a day that's on my 'to do' list. I doubt if I'll get to see them all (plans at Glastonbury have a habit of being changed at a moment's notice) but it's good to have something to aim for.

First up is jazz sensation Kamasi Washington, Playing on the West Holts stage, his powerfully modern take on jazz has seen him collaborate with both Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar (is it too much to hope for a K Dot special appearance?). Never one to take the easy path, his mammoth 3 hour, triple cd from last year truly lives up to its title 'The Epic'. If you've got a couple of hours to spare then immerse yourself in the full concert above, or if not try the shorter 'Re Run Home' below, which will only take up 14 minutes of your busy day.

Come back tomorrow for another recommendation.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Recommended music: 'Don't Dwell' by Star Parks

Another gem from the magical world of Paper Trail Records, this swoonsome little album features heart, soul and sunshine by the bucket load. Imagine Mercury Rev crossed with the Beach Boys, with more than a touch of Fleet Foxes, and you'll be somewhere on the way to understanding the pop hooks, harmonies and melodies that fill this record. It has a classic, timeless quality that has been given a modern skew, enabling it to sound both fresh and retro at the same time.

Hailing from Austin, Star Parks is the creation of Andy Bianculli. He recorded this gem in Tuscon with 2 additional members, Andrew Collberg and Chris Stafford, and between the three of them dreams have been realised and worlds created.

You can order the limited edition blue vinyl here or get the download from your usual choice of soulless media provider. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Recommended music: 'Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future' by Underworld

It's been a while since I've bought an Underworld album, so I'm not really sure if this sounds like an Underworld album should. In fact, since I first heard lead single 'I Exhale' that one's always reminded me of The Fall. It's not particularly representative of the rest of the album, but it does serve as a stomping great opener that knocks your head around a bit ready for the rest of the record.

And what a record it is. Second track 'If Rah' is a squelchy electronic beast that updates Born Slippy's hedonistic 'lager lager lager' refrain to a much more clean-living 'lunar lunar lunar'. It's a stream of consciousness that's up there with their best work.

Following it up is the faster, mantra-like 'Low Burn', which features snatches of singing between the repeated spoken vocals. It's a proper head-nodder of a tune that will have you grinning as you bounce around.

By track 4, 'Santiago Cuatro', they're really moving us into new territory. A beautifully played guitar calls to mind Arabic melodies while snatches of radio interference disrupt the gentle evening mood. The track somehow brings to mind a journey, a trip that ends sitting round a Bedouin campfire, an hallucinogenic drug purging ritual, a tribe on the brink of extinction.

'Motorhome' is next, a hypnotic, melodic drifter which (whisper it) features proper singing and some brilliantly random elecronics. I especially like the bit where it almost, but not quite, turns into 'Baba O'Riley' by The Who.

Nearly at the end, penultimate track 'Ova Nova' is a vocoder-vocalled  that's got an uplifting tune and words to match. It's certainly one of the happiest tracks I've heard them make, perhaps reflecting their mental states and the fat that both of them have (grown-up) children singing backing vocals on this album).

Finally, 'Nylon Strung' closes the record out with more happy vibes - "I wanna hold you, laughing" go the lyrics, another  pointer to what a good place they're in.

Overall then this is a really great record, one of my favourites of 2016 so far. I'm just hoping that the scheduling works out OK at Glastonbury so I can see both Underworld and LCD Soundsystem!